- Snapchat unveils new safeguards aimed to protect teens aged between 13 to 17 years.
- Changes to the app include warnings about friend requests and new parameters regarding new friend suggestions.
- Teens will now have a more age-appropriate viewing experience on the content platform, a welcome move by parents.
- Accounts that may be trying to market and promote inappropriate content shall be effectively struck out.
Creating a safe and positive environment is a top priority for Snapchat and the platform is always trying to do more to help keep the growing community safe. With that goal in mind, Snap Inc. announced new features to further protect teenagers from potential online risks. The new safeguards have been introduced on its app with the intention of protecting teens against unwanted contact and malicious online interactions.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – up to 95% of kids between 13 and 17 years old use social media. With an uptick in social media usage, the industry has come under increased attention due to pitfalls in safeguarding youth interactions and mental health on the app, but parental advisers see this as a step forward for a safer online environment. The content platform has created a very helpful YouTube explainer series. In addition, Snap is releasing new resources for families, including an updated parents guide.
“What we’re really hoping to do is to empower parents to be able to have conversations about online safety with their teens, to better understand Snapchat and to make the decisions that are right for them and their families as it relates to online safety,” says Nona Yadegar, Director of Design, Strategy and Operations at Snap Inc. The Snap team is extremely focused on making it harder for strangers to talk to teens. It is also essential for parents to talk to their kids about staying safe online and discuss what that means.
One of the key safeguarding features include in-app warnings that pop up when a teen receives a friend request from someone with no mutual contacts. There will be stronger protection measures for accepting friend requests. Now, 13 to 17-year-olds will be required to have multiple mutual friends before showing up in each other’s online searches and friend suggestions.
Snapchat will be implementing a new strike system for taking down accounts promoting age-inappropriate content, where users can report suspected content and repeat offenders’ accounts will be banned. New in-app education content also explains certain online risks to minors and parents and shares resources to help hotlines.
Immediate Account Ban
The content platform does not allow harmful content such as sexual exploitation, pornography, violence, self-harm and misinformation. If any account is found engaging in any such activity, they shall be immediately banned from Snapchat.
Key Personalities Respond
Many say, though, that any software changes won’t diminish the importance of good parenting and its impact in helping kids grow up safely in a digital age. However, apps alone won’t solve everything. A one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist for an issue as complex as this.
“Knowing that we have a deep responsibility to teen safety, to their mental health motivates me every single day to make sure that we’re constantly pushing forward,” says Nona Yadegar. “There’s no silver bullet to online safety. Online safety is constantly evolving. And so for us, we’re constantly learning and constantly seeking to make improvements because the safety of our community is paramount, and we’re always going to be doing more,” he said.
Rachel Simmons, a parenting expert, terms this move as an important step. She said. “Kids are going to have to work a lot harder to share their location and to connect with people that they don’t know. So this is progress. These changes to the apps are never going to be a substitute for parents checking in with their kids. Parents have to ask questions. They have to set time limits, and they have to sometimes be strict and not take their kids’ no for an answer. So we all have to set boundaries with teenagers and make sure that they know our rules.”
Uthara Ganesh, Head Public Policy-South Asia, Snap Inc. believes that Snapchat is designed to have fun and communicate openly with your closest friends. According to the company, nothing is more important than the safety of its users and their app design plays a powerful role in ensuring this. “Our latest features are thoughtful in app features that are designed to empower teens to make smarter choices, and talk openly about staying safe online. We’re committed to making sure Snapchat is a place where you can be creative and stay safe. And above all, the safety and well-being of our community in India, which includes over 200 Million users, is our top priority.”
Shefali Shah, a Movie & Theatre Artist and Celebrity Mom applauds Snapchat’s commitment to safety. She says, “As a mother and an actor, I understand the power and impact of our digital choices. It’s crucial that we guide our teens to make thoughtful decisions while navigating the online world. Snapchat’s new safeguards empower us as parents to strike that balance between trust and responsible oversight. Having open conversations with our teens about tools available to help keep them safe is critical.”
Snapchat has always been dedicated to making the platform a safer place, with a continuous effort to build on these improvements in the coming months with additional protections for teen Snapchatters and support for parents.
We, at Social Nation, also find this move extraordinary as our platform’s audience also largely falls in the teen category. Do join us in our Snapchat journey by subscribing to the @socialnation account on the app. Check out what we have to offer from intriguing interviews to insightful articles and more, within the world of digital content and creators. See you there!